Versatile, durable, hardy, reliable – the cast iron skillet always delivers
Cast iron skillets are having a moment, or, rather another moment. It seems that in the past six months I’m reading about them again everywhere. Cast iron is hip.
A Wall Street Journal article last June reported that in the 1970s Teflon nearly put the traditional cookware companies out of business. Recently Teflon has fallen out of favor and the traditional companies are making a comeback. Since 2008, Lodge Manufacturing Co., the nation’s largest cast iron skillet maker, has seen its sales double. Part of this is due to more men cooking. Men are drawn to the heavier, pure metal cookware and half of Lodge’s customers are male. Lodge, which has been making cast iron skillets since McKinley was president, is breaking ground on a new foundry later this year.
Vintage skillets were poured and polished by hand, and what resulted was a very smooth surface. That kind of labor became too expensive and the pans have become rougher as they are no longer hand-polished. Today’s pans are also heavier than the vintage pans. As a result, vintage cast iron skillets have become collector’s items, and new companies vying to make a newer, better, smoother, lighter cast iron skillet are starting production.
Cast iron pros:
- It holds the heat and stays hot longer than other types of cookware.
- It is great for searing meat or fish.
- When used in the oven, it maintains a steady temperature, cooking foods evenly.
- It delivers a gorgeous golden crust.
- It improves with age and is indestructible.
- It goes from stove top to grill to oven to campfire.
- A well-seasoned pan becomes non-stick.
- Your heirs will fight over it.
Cast iron cons:
- Needs to be seasoned (not difficult, so really there are no cons).
New cast iron companies:
Subscriber Patty E. recommends the skillets made by two brothers from Maine who wanted to understand why vintage cast iron is considered much better quality than what’s currently being sold. They decided to try and make a better cast iron skillet for today’s cooks and created the Field Skillet, a lighter, smoother classic cast iron skillet. The Field Company completed a Kickstarter campaign and raised over $1.6 million to start production. They believe their skillet will last a lifetime and deliver the same high-level performance of vintage cast iron skillets. The Field Skillet is currently in production but you can sign up for one when distribution begins. About $100.
Finex, which also started on Kickstarter, is located in Portland, Oregon and sold through its website and Williams Sonoma. The 8” cast iron skillet is $125.00.
What can you cook?
Would you believe you can roast a chicken, cook Baked Brie with Honeyed Apricots, make a Carmelized Onion, Pear and Bacon Tart, and bake a pie and cornbread all in a cast iron skillet?
If you are REALLY into your cast iron skillet and want to spend 20 minutes learning about cast iron restoration and maintenance watch this You Tube video.
Earlier we wrote an article describing cast iron skillets – their care and benefits.